A Day in the Life of a NATSO Truckstop Operator: Keith Wade, Petro Dodge City #397


When you’re preparing to greet 1,000 drivers or more a day, mornings come early. For Keith Wade, operations director at Petro Dodge City #397 in Hanceville, Ala., each day starts with two cups of coffee and plenty of conversation with his staff. He likes to learn what is going on in each department and hear about the managers’ plans for the day.

“You know what? It is good to talk to folks. There is not one person that knows that everything. We are so diverse and there are so many different things we do,” he said.

He also takes time to drive through the parking lot and see how many of the location’s 312 truck parking spaces are full. Then he checks on all the sales numbers. And that’s just before lunch.

Business continues into the afternoon and Wade makes the most of his lunch hour. Once or twice a week, he eats with a vendor at the location’s buffet. He also has lunch once a week with the owner and on the other days with managers.

Wade is a hands-on manager and after lunch he usually spends his afternoon either in the store or the shop to get a feel for what is going. He also meets with his staff every Tuesday morning. “We go over our numbers, new policies and labor,” he said, adding that he and his staff frequently talk about safety and shrink.

Wade said he also spends a lot of time considering the location’s food offerings. The store has doubled its revenue recently by increasing its grab-and-go selections. “There is great margin on those items,” he said.

The location is able to use its Iron Skillet kitchen to prepare fresh deli offerings, and adding the grab-and-go foods has only affected the restaurant by half a percent. Wade is also considering adding a quick-service restaurant to the location to help draw in four-wheel traffic.

Once Wade signs off for the day, he knows the location is in good hands. “At night, I’ve hired such good managers, I know they are handling it,” he said, adding that the location has over 100 employees.


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Mindy Long's photo

Mindy Long

Before launching a full-time freelance career, Long edited NATSO's Stop Watch magazine. Prior to that Long worked as a staff reporter for Transport Topics, a weekly trade newspaper, covering freight transportation, fuel and environmental issues. In addition to covering the transportation sector, Long has written, reported and edited for a variety of media outlets. She was the Washington correspondent for WCAX-TV (CBS) in Burlington, Vt., a criminal court reporter in Chicago and a freelance copy editor for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in Washington D.C. Long hold a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.More
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